JFK and RFK, a Tale of Two Assassinations


         Some people see all the controversy and all the books that have been written about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and wonder why. I notice that there has hardly been any public controversy, and relatively little has been written about the murder of his brother, Robert, although the official story is, if anything, even more questionable, and I wonder why not. Might it be the very fact that it bears scrutiny even less than the JFK assassination, so, as our opinion molders see it, the less said the better? Could it be that it reveals the forces at work behind the scenes even more vividly than does the earlier killing? In the JFK murder the patsy was a young "former" military man apparently sheep-dipped to play the role of the demon du jour, a Communist, not unlike how super soldier Timothy McVeigh has been rather ineffectively painted as one of the establishment's current bugbears, a militia man. The RFK patsy, Sirhan Sirhan, resembled McVeigh in that he had a vacant, mind-controlled quality about him, but even better from the point of view of the puppeteers, he didn't even have to be sheep-dipped. He is a Palestinian.


         The disparity in attention paid to the two murders allows fake-left academic types like Maurice Isserman and Michael Kazin (son of neo-conservative literary critic, Alfred) in their recent history/propaganda book, America Divided, The Civil War of the 1960s, to get away with appearing to be agnostic on the JFK assassination while parroting the official fairy tale with respect to RFK:


         On the night of June 5, Bobby was celebrating a narrow victory in the California race when a psychotic Palestinian nationalist named Sirhan Sirhan took his life.


         That's the sum total of what they have to say about Bobby's murder. Questioned about their different treatment of the two killings at a presentation at the bookstore, Politics and Prose, in Washington, DC, last year, Kazin said that it was because a number of "respectable" critics had raised questions about JFK's murder, while, to his knowledge, that had not been the case with RFK's murder. He then went on to say what he was clearly afraid to say in his book for fear of loss of credibility (with his readers, not his publishers), he said that he, personally, believed that John F. Kennedy was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone.


         The contrast with how popular writer, Ralph G. Martin, treats the two murders is revealing. His book, Seeds of Destruction, Joe Kennedy and His Sons, deals with the details of the lives and deaths of his title characters, so he can hardly brush over the subject at issue as lightly as Isserman and Kazin do. Not wanting to be panned by the propaganda press as a "conspiracy nut," but, at the same time, wanting to impress his readers by his mastery of the facts, facts, which, unfortunately, favor the "nuts," he solves his problem simply by lying. He tells us that, in a time frame that would permit with a bit of a stretch at most three shots from one bolt-action rifle (with minimal time to find the target and aim through a telescopic sight), precisely three shots were fired. The first, he says, hit Kennedy in the neck, the second hit Governor John Connally, and the third hit Kennedy in the head, the coup de grace. Not having Isserman and Kazin's bookish left-wing readership to cater to, he explains away the controversy conventionally as something caused by a psychological problem, the inability of many people to accept that "a misguided loser with a $12 rifle could end Camelot."


         The authorities and the critics agree, however, that there was a shot that missed the car and passengers entirely and struck a curb a considerable distance in front of Kennedy's limousine. The existence of that shot explains why Warren Commission attorney, Arlen Specter, had to come up with the famous "magic bullet" theory explaining how the shot that hit Kennedy in the neck also inflicted a variety of injuries on Connally. Without Specter's magic bullet or Martin's misrepresentation, the single assassin theory falls down because there simply was not enough time for one person to fire four shots.


         On RFK, for the same reason that Isserman and Kazin can blandly pass on the government's conclusions, Martin can play it straight and commit truth. There have not been a sufficient number of agitators about the case to make us care enough one way or another. This is from pp. 566-567:


         As with JFK's assassination, there were many dubious details, including the matter of "the girl in the polka-dot dress." Several people remembered seeing her with Sirhan and another man at the hotel before the shooting. She disappeared. There was also the fact that the Los Angeles police had destroyed three rolls of film confiscated from an eyewitness who took pictures at the very moment shots were being fired. Of 3,470 police interviews on tape, only 301 were kept. Also, the tapes of fifty-one significant witnesses seem to be missing, along with five pantry ceiling tiles, two of which contained bullet holes. The door frame containing two bullet holes was also missing.


         A witness insisted that he stopped Sirhan from firing his gun after the second shot. Besides, the number of people wounded and the number of bullet holes indicate that a dozen shots were fired. Sirhan's pistol contained only eight bullets. The autopsy determined that the shot that killed Kennedy came from behind his right ear, indicating that it came from another gun.


         When California released its voluminous files on the assassination it included a certificate showing that 2,410 police photographs in the assassination case were burned on August 21, 1968.


         Martin goes on to speculate that maybe Bobby's enemy, Jimmy Hoffa, was somehow behind the killing, softening the impact of what he has just told us. Surely he must know that Hoffa didn't have the power to orchestrate the cover-up that he has just described.


         A book, Shadow Play: The Untold Story of the Robert F. Kennedy Assassination, by William Klaber and Philip H. Melanson was published in 1997 by St. Martin's Press. It fleshes out the details given by Martin and provides many more reasons to doubt the official story, but it was greeted by a deafening silence by the propaganda press.


         Like the relative silence about President Lyndon Johnson's personal and political corruption compared to what we hear about Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and Clinton, the relative silence about Robert Kennedy's murder, I believe, is telling. Explaining either would carry us a long way toward understanding how, by whom, and toward what end we are currently ruled.


         David Martin

         January 28, 2001




         We overlooked in our initial article above the 1978 book The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy by William W. Turner and John G. Christian (as well as Melanson’s predecessor book to Shadow Play, the 1994 The Robert F. Kennedy Assassination: New Revelations on the Conspiracy and Cover-up, 1968-1991).   The fact of its existence does nothing to undermine our essential point.  In fact, the first customer review I read on Amazon.com echoes it:  When one considers the bizarre nature of the known objective facts of the RFK assassination and the stakes involved, it is truly amazing so few books are available. Sirhan Sirhan is a true cipher, and nothing in the 'official' story about him allegedly murdering RFK makes any kind of sense.”


        Neither is it undermined by the fact that Shane O’Sullivan produced a critical film documentary, RFK Must Die: The Assassination of Bobby Kennedy, in 2007 and published the book, Who Killed Bobby?  The Unsolved Murder of Robert Kennedy in 2008.  What is generally known about the RFK assassination continues to be pitifully little and the number of books and articles about it compared to those about his brother remains tiny.


         Concerning our concluding paragraph and Lyndon Johnson, the relative vacuum about his corruption—and his biggest crime of all, involvement in the JFK assassination—has begun to be filled with a vengeance in recent years.  Books of note on that subject are Noel Twyman’s obscure volume Bloody Treason: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1997, Philip Nelson’s sonmewhat better publicized LBJ, The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination in 2011, and James T. Tague’s LBJ and the Kennedy Killing due out this month.


         David Martin

         October 1, 2013





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